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Foundation 101

Foundation 101 Course

Welcome to the new and improved Foundation 101 singing course with Bohemian Vocal Studio. The course is divided into two main sections, the informative Foundation stage, and the practical Warmup stage. In stage one, we’re going to develop a working relationship with each important element of the voice, from diaphragmatic breathing, to shaping vowels, mixed voice, twang, range, tone and so forth, and then we’ll bring it all together in the stage two warmup.

The warmup itself is designed to foster balance in beginner singers, and RESET the balance in experienced singers, so even if you’ve been singing for some time already and you feel like you’ve got a handle on the breathing or buzz side of things, it’s important that you use the course and the warmup the way that I’ve designed it so that you get the most out of the course and the best out of your voice.

How To Use This Course

The first time you use this course, it’s important that you sit to watch the informative videos in a comfortable and distraction-free environment. Throw a pair of headphones on (watch out for any loud sections!) and immerse yourself in the foundation elements of singing. Then when we get to the warmup stage, you can start singing along with me, or simply listen to each exercise example – remember, each voice is different, and you need to develop each technique for your voice in the best way possible.

Start light, gentle and with resonance – it’s important that you avoid a breathy or pushed tone at all cost to avoid forming bad habits or hurting your voice. If something doesn’t feel right, you’re not doing it correctly. Take it slow, sing carefully, focus predominantly on connection and resonance and you can ask questions at any point by using the ‘Leave a reply’ box below.

Before we get started, I recommend joining the private Mixed Voice Singing group so that you can receive feedback and tips from me along the way as we progress. It’s free to join, it’s private for members only, and you can share clips of your singing or covers for appraisal and help from both myself, and also other experienced Bohemian Vocal Studio students who can show you the ropes.

I suggest bookmarking this page to retain your private link to the Foundation 101 singing course – you should also have a copy of your link in your confirmation email. Please email me if you’re unable to find your link.

Informative Foundation Stage

Watch the video below for the Informative Stage of the Foundation 101 singing course. You can hit pause at any time to try out the techniques for yourself, or simply listen to each tutorial in one sitting.

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47 thoughts on “Foundation 101

  1. It is amazing just how much posture and breathing affects your singing. I can remember my early days of singing – always running out of air hitting high notes or just simply not able to hit certain notes at all. This course has been a great help, thanks!

    It occurred to me how important breathing and posture are after listening to an interview with Elvis Presley and how his singing coach got him to hit some of his really high notes.

    Great video and tips!

    1. Thanks Dani! Absolutely – support is key to building a powerful high range and keeping your voice healthy.

      Let me know if you have any other questions about your voice!

      k

  2. Thanks for this great course! I did not know there was so much to breathing. It’s great you’re teaching everyone the correct way that would help a person while they sing.

    Are there more exercises I can do to so that it no longer requires the steps or too much thinking?

    1. Hey Bobby! You’re welcome. Absolutely, I’m working on an advanced breath support course as we speak.

      You’re welcome to book a session with me when you’re ready to power up your breathing!

      K

  3. When using my diaphragm and all, when singing where should my focus be when trying to go higher in pitch ? on my diaphragm muscles and push out high notes? or on my vocal chords. I don’t know where i should engage without straining myself. Help 🙁

    1. Hey there!

      Absolutely not – you should be holding ‘in’ your air to sing, especially in your high range, not forcing anything out.

      You should breathe using your diaphragm, then focus your ‘resonance’ above your top teeth/towards your nose, and try to resonate freely with a ‘buzz’ and no pushing or strain.

      Let me know how you go!

      K

      1. Just signed up for this course and prior to playing the first video I started reading these comments. I was intrigued about the bit you said about hitting the resonance above the front teeth around the nose. I just did it. I never felt that sensation before. This is gonna be a super course. Thanks…

  4. I love what you have going here! This is an amazing site for those who would love to learn breathing control and taking control of their singng! WOW just wow i’ve always had a passion for singing and was a tenor 1 in high school. Had to audition for royal chorale which is a select choir group for my high school years. It was just a wonderful experience and here i am listening to you do classes on it online is just amazing man! Good stuff man Keep up the wonderful work!!!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Victor! I’m sure you’ll regain that Tenor range of your youth with my tutorials – Let me know if you have any questions about your voice.

      All the best,

      K

  5. Kegan:
    I am a late deafened adult who is working with a classical voice teachèr, much as you described your first teacher. Quite wonderful, but very traditional.
    I got my head kicked in with motorcycle boots, trying to protect a girl. My teeth are canted inward, so that I have to pull my tongue in to close my mouth. If I try to close my jaws without moving my tongue, my tongue is sandwiched between my teeth, with a little hanging over the sides, like an extra generous hamburger.
    I feel strangled when I sing, and I wonder if even trying is hurting my voice because my range is steadily decreasing so that G#3 is my top note. When I started lessons, my high end was already a problem, and I was hitting F#4.
    Do you know if such a physical abnormality might inevitably cause damaging strain?
    Finally, could you add captioning to your videos? Lots of older singers don’t hear as well as they once did, it is more common than people realize.
    And thanks for all the well written text and the absence of troublesome pop ups. Some pages I make a point of clicking nothing, this page, I will be sure to click everything every time. Thanks again for your time and effort.

    1. Hi John!

      As long as there’s no damage to the actual vocal mechanism, the only thing that would be effected is really your resonance, which in turn yes may lead to straining by incorrect vowel choice and how you’re able to actually shape the vowels with your tongue. I’m no expert on such issues, so I suggest to see an ENT if you think there’s a bigger issue at hand, but otherwise this sounds more like a technique issue to me.

      I guess the question I would ask is about your approach – are you releasing as you ascend, or holding on to your chest resonance? Are you placing the resonance, or is it in your throat? Are you shaping each of your vowel sounds and matching your tract width for each sound? There’s a whole raft of technique and finesse issues which will cause the problems you speak of, not just physical limitations you feel there may be.

      As a side note, the tip of the tongue, the back of the tongue and the root of the tongue can all move independently. You should be singing with your mouth open and tongue shaped accordingly to each vowel sound, so again I can’t see this being a real issue 🙂

      Let me know how it goes.

  6. Hi am trying to learn i surrender by celine dion i can hit the notes perfectly but there is one bit that is has a really long note near the end of the song, but i run out of breath a few seconds before the note finishes, how can i do the note without getting breathless?

    1. If you are supporting properly, your airflow will be limited in place of a proper balance of flow & pressure instead. A great way to think of it is focus ‘down and outwards’ as you ascend/as you hold a phrase. The idea is to stop your ribs from contracting as you release air.

      Let me know how it goes!

      K

  7. Hi Kegan,
    I went through the course and I think it was money well spent for the value received. Thank you for creating it!!
    I hope it is not my imagination, but my voice feels more solid and resonant. I also feel that the I can sing at the upper end of my range with a lot less struggle.

    I am not sure where I go from here so my question is, should I now just start practicing singing songs that I like, and if so, how do I go about this?

    Thank you,
    Doug

    1. Awesome, glad to hear Doug! You’re welcome – this is the Foundation course I wish was available to me when I first started 🙂

      Absolutely, these little points of articulation, along with the vowels and mixed resonance will continue to strengthen your voice with time. Have you checked out the Support and Mix booster in the premium section? They’re a powerful step up from the Foundations and will help you strengthen both support and mix – plus the Vowel Translator is designed specifically to help you turn the ‘technique’ into something practical and will show you which vowel shapes to use with each word in the songs you’d like to learn.

      Let me know how you go!

      K

  8. Hey Kegan,

    After finally starting to see progress in my health, I’m back. I watched the mature singing video and it all rang true to me. I’ve been practicing the vowels almost every day, the exceptions are travel days to shows and the day after shows.

    1. Hey Will! Glad you’re on the mend. How are the onsets and placement going? Remember, it’s a process of balance and coordination – without an onset, or resonant space… your vowel won’t work no matter how well you shape it. I recall we were working on some pronunciation issues in our last session together – the solution to this issue is treating the vowel as a form of resonance, not a ‘sound’ per-se

  9. I’ve always thought of the voice as a “wind instrument” of sorts, but after reading your description of air pressure versus air flow, it seems that the singing voice has more in common with bagpipes than with say, a clarinet. Your explanations of how singing “works” are outstanding and extremely helpful. I have so much to learn–and practice!

  10. Hey Kegan,

    Can you please explain the mechanics/sensation of maintaining the air pressure after inhaling. I find, especially with low notes, that I am tensing up and ‘hunkering down’ my body in an attempt to maintain the air pressure and hold back the air flow. This is causing my neck muscles in the front and back to become tense and sore. Should I be looking to hold back air flow in my lower register and increase air flow as I go up in the range? Cheers

    1. Hey Antony!

      In the lower range, you require less pressure, so, simply breathe naturally using the diaphragm/good posture, this alone will provide the pressure you need for resonance. Then, as you ascend, you resist the recoil of the diaphragm at your ribs/lower back muscles/sternum and hte pressure will increase.

      Let me know how you go!

      K

  11. Hello Kegan!
    I have a question. I can’t do lip trill so I just do S instead of lip trill. But when I do this exercise I have discomfort in the throat. What can I do to fix it. Thank you anyway!

  12. In Week 2 ex 2 each step sholud go in half-tone upper?

    So for example
    1st trill – C
    2nd tril – l C#
    NG – D
    N – D#

    and so on?

    1. This approach will work for the vowels to save time, but in this instance it’s best to treat each chromatic step with each exercise as they’re designed to work “Placement, Space, Placement, Twang, Space, Space, AH with all, AA with all”. So, after you’ve used this warmup, you can then go through each vowel ascending like you’ve mentioned – this will be a part of the Growth 101 warmup.

      K

  13. Hi Kegan!
    Once I worked it that I was not holding on my air as I sang things started to change. I realised I was venting every time before I sang. My set up for phonation included letting some air out. Just a bad habit. My question is, is this why you advocate the balanced onset? Once we have taken a good, full breath, the air is under pressure. By employing a balanced onset we ensure that that air remains compressed and therefore the airstream powerful. We also maintain and regulate that compression by resisting the release of the diaphragm and keeping the ribs out. Am I getting this?

    Thanks man,

    Trav

    1. Absolutely – 100% correct. Support and balanced onset are developed first, and then compression is secondary once you have learned the process of balancing. Aspirating before the onset creates a pillow of air between the folds, so they can’t close properly. A hard onset creates pressed phonation and strain – balancing is the perfect timing so that the folds vibrate the second they meet, so no force is required, but compression is maintained because they are vibrating and regulating the air, not in spite of the air that passes. Sounds like great progress Trav!!

      1. It’s an ongoing journey. Realising my bad habit has been huge, but isn’t a fix. Today I a, at square one on 101 and am going through it slowly. Thanks for being there mate.

  14. Kegan, can you discuss passaggi and where they are located? In the male tenor voice, I know there is one at around Eb-F. But I’ve also heard there is one at around A4 and another at C5. I’ve also read people saying there’s is one lower than the Eb passaggio I mentioned above, and I wanted to clarify where the passaggi sit in BVS methodology.

    Thanks mate,

    Trav

    1. It’s subjective to the voice – hence why I don’t refer to them in that manner, because, it will make you ‘anticipate’ a break or change, when in actual fact the change is natural; we only experience this break because we expect a word/vowel to sound a certain way in relation to speech. There’s two ‘break’ periods where there’s a change in the acoustics – so, three registers in a tonal/acoustic sense. Chest voice occurs when the resonant space is neutral, Mix occurs when the soft palate is spread and raised, and then head voice is when the soft palate is raised with a narrowed tract. Obviously, there is a plethora of shades in between so “register” in a muscular sense isn’t really a thing.

      Are you trying to work out where to alter your resonant space? Do it as early as possible in the beginning stages while singing light and it will become pretty obvious where they actually sit, because a slight change in the acoustic space will help you resonate with ease, but without it – you’ll have to push or ‘flip’.

      My first break period is around the B3, second around the E or F about depending on time of day/what I’m singing etc. This is pretty rare however, most baritones have a break around a Dflat3, and second at the F or G. Yours is likely higher, probably D3 and A4. Not that it matters though, because, if you practice each exercise light but resonant without any expectation on tonal quality/character (like we often do with vowels), then you’ll naturally build these bridges without the need to butcher your vowel or make a hard change on each of these notes.

      So, tricky question to answer in a general sense. Passaggi is a classical term, and in a classical sense, Baritone’s like myself are often told that they don’t have an A4 in their range – so, pretty pointless and wholly incorrect in a physical sense or in a contemporary setting. I often sing in the B4/C5 area – but also enjoy singing D/E/F2 as well and consider this more my ‘natural’ range than the high range I’ve now developed.

      You can even feel these acoustic changes on a lip trill. Practice them light and gentle and pay attention to where you have to ‘release’ and you’ll find your first and second break/the bridge between the three registers.

      K

      1. Wow. That’s a pretty badass response. Not at all what I expected. So we shift to the ‘wow’ colour as early as we can and we will feel when it is right, and the same apples to narrowing to Oui. I can do that. Cheers dude.

  15. hi kegan thanks for your excellent course.
    i did not understand what you says about the balanced onset that its like having an open colon of air and closing when you want resonance dosent having an open colon of air is what you do on a breathy onset when the air comes first or is there a difference between air and resonance.

    thanks for your help
    assaf shalom

    1. Hi Assaf! You’re welcome! A breathy onset occurs when you allow airflow across the vocal folds before they close (like hhHHello), a glottal onset occurs when you fully close the folds before releasing pressurised air (speech style “Get” or “Give”) – a balance onset occurs when you bring together closure and airflow at the perfect moment to create instant resonance without prior closure of the folds, and without prior airflow. If your resonance is weak, airy or you hear a “hhh” before you start singing, this is breathy. If you hear a hard attack like a G or K sound when you sing, and your tone is strained/you have tension – this is a glottal onset. A balanced onset takes time to develop, so try to think of it in a resonant sense “Is my resonance starting instantly with no other sound before the resonance”.

      All the best!

      K

  16. Hi kegan, i’m wondering is it normal to have a short chest range? my chest range is D2-E3. I see other baritones with a 2 octave chest range. Everytime i go above E3 i flip into this whiny head voice. Recently i’ve been able to connect my chest with my head voice by being very slow and quiet when going up the scale, i was amazed because i was trying to figure how to do it for 2 years now. but i cant sing in my head or middle of my range if i add volume. if i add volume it cracks and sounds terrible. I also feel like i’m straining and my vocal chords hurt even if i lift up my soft pallet, and allow resonance. could it be because my voice isn’t used to singing high or am i doing something wrong?

    1. Hey Raul!

      Remember, chest is simply a form of resonance – so to sing with strength in the centre you partially have to release this resonance and allow a blend with head. Without hearing your voice, I’d say you’re using full contraction of the TA muscles, which yes, will limit your chest resonance to around that E3. How are you going with resonant space? The key to strengthening this area is to form your vowel and space properly to enable full resonance through the centre of the voice. So for example, the way that you’re adding volume is likely incorrect – singing is all resonance, not an amplifier. So, don’t worry about volume for now, focus on each individual element and let them grow with time.

      A key component to the middle register is effective compression as well as maintaining placement.

      K

  17. thanks kegan

    i would like to ask what is your recommendation for the next step. entering premium membership or buying the growth course i am learning a lot and would like to take the best way up the rode thanks again for the knowledge you teach and share

    all the best assaf

    1. Hey Assaf! Great to hear you’re learning a lot! Growth 101 is the next step as it will show you compression and forward placement along with building your voice further – premium is best if you’re looking to book a session with me.

      K

  18. Hello Kegan

    I’m having a problem. I am retaining too much air after signing a line or phrase.

    Should I be taking shorter breaths and exhaling all my air after a phrase?

    for example should all my air be used up after singing a line or phrase? I hope this makes sense

    Thanks

    Kevin

    1. Hey Kevin!

      It depends on the issue this is causing. Either you’re getting MUCH better at moderating your airflow and you’re realising just how little air you need to move to sing well, or, you’re clamping and pressing the folds through the centre and using force to make the folds move – this obviously isn’t healthy, so back it off a touch for now and allow a slight “hhH” on your onset, and an imaginary release of air through the centre of your range to bridge chest and head.

      Hope that helps!

      K

  19. Hi Kegan- I recently got the Foundation 101 and I’m starting to work on the beginning stage warmups. Ive been singing for a while, but my limited high range has led to pulling chest a lot and forming bad habits when singing near the top of my range. Im basically having to relearn my approach to high notes, singing VERY lightly to connect lip trills or anything.
    My question is this: I don’t have nearly enough time in my schedule to practice as much as I’d like to or should. How long each day practicing will enable me to improve and grow my voice? Is it simply a matter of the more you put in-the more you get out, or is there kind of a minimum bar for how much practice is needed?

    1. Hey Henry! How you do the exercises is actually more important than how often you do them. You could spend five hours a day doing an exercise inconsistently with no results, or 5 or so minutes per day absolutely nailing it and working towards the true intention of the exercise and you’ll make great progress. So, yes and no – of course, you have to put in time and effort, BUT, there is such a thing as efficient practice, and inefficient practice and time will make very little difference in the latter choice. So, try to associate each exercise with one of the concepts in the first video – the purpose of the “N” is to achieve placement in the three main resonators, the “NG” is to develop twang, “hoots” to find resonant space and set up the larynx etc – you’ll get there with much less practice time than if you just try to make the sound without the right intention…

      K

  20. Hello! I’m still confused on the support.

    1. Inhale
    2. Hold the air and sing? Or hold release/sing (at the same time)?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey David!

      It’s actually both – eventually you’ll achieve compression of the air held in by the extended diaphragm, but, you need to release this pressurised air in a controlled fashion. So, the way you use the diaphragm to control your air in the initial stages will actually evolve into a slightly different process as your singing improves. In the foundation stage, just focus on breathing correctly rather than holding or releasing per se. As you get a little further down the track, you can start releasing the air in a more controlled and restrained way so that you achieve pressure and flow at the same time, instead of just pressure (hold) or pure flow (release). Hope that helps!

      K

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